In case you forgot, you’re in Matric.
For many reading this, your main priority is to achieve good results so that you can get into a good higher education institution.
This means that you will have to study hard and more importantly, study effectively. But how? Just like every person has different taste in music and movies, every person has a different way of studying and learning. We’re going to look at some of those techniques that others have found useful and we hope you find them useful as well.
The best way to study is to make it a habit. Studies show that repeating an activity over a 21 day period can break a habit but creating one takes as little as 7 days. The idea behind habitual study is that you schedule a time and duration where you study and stick to it. Every person’s concentration span is different and because of that we would encourage you to select a time, duration and place where you will study every day.
Tests are stressful, but they are also useful. Tests effectively tell someone how well you’ve learnt the material and how well you understand it.
So why can’t you use tests to your own benefit? Past papers are extremely helpful because not only do they give you a chance to practice but also give more clarity oh how certain questions can be asked. This allows you to target the questions you struggle with and focus on material that you may never even have known you had problems with.
If you have ants in your pants and cannot sit still for 5 minutes then perhaps this method will serve you well. While some people are able to consume large amounts of information and remember it all word for word (this is also known as cramming) other people can only digest information in small pieces. There is nothing wrong with this, in fact in some cases it may help you to better understand the material you are studying. This sort of technique is referred to as disturbed practice. Basically you study the material over a large number of shorter study sessions rather than all the material over a longer session.
The most effective use of this technique is to take the time you studied and divide it by two and use that time to take a break. So if I were to study for 20 minutes, I would take a 10 minute break. The interesting thing about this technique is that most people that use it eventually end up being able to study for longer after implementing this technique over an extended period of time.
Although many psychiatrists would say that talking to yourself is a sign of madness, it has been proven that saying the content you are saying out loud can be highly effective. The concept works around the idea that engaging different parts of the brain aids in storage of information as well as accessing that information at a later time. But how do you teach yourself if you don’t know the work? Very simple, you read over your work a few times and understand it.
Take note, don’t just read over it and think you’re done, make sure you understand the work and then start explaining it to yourself out loud. If you don’t want to appear crazy, get a sibling, parent or a friend to sit down and have you teach them the work. They may not be listening or even understand what you’re doing but as long as you do, that’s fine.
We need to attach a bit of a disclaimer on this method. Cramming is not an option if you have not studied at all. Why do we say this? Well, to explain it we need to go into a bit of brain science. You have two types of memory, short term and long term.
Studying by using any of the methods listed previously engage the long term memory in your brain, storing it for later use and giving you the ability to recall the information you’ve learnt. Short term memory is like a scrap of paper. It’s useful when trying to remember a number, names, addresses and other things but unless you engage the long term memory in the process you’re going to have a hard time recalling things from your short term memory.
Now, when you cram, you’re forcing your brain to store large amounts of information quickly. Your brain takes this as short term memory because it is not in a state where it can access the long term memory of your brain. So what happens to people that only cram? They forget!
You see, short term memory stores information for a very short time, scientists estimate that a persons’ short term memory is only capable of storing information for a maximum of 6 hours. This doesn’t seem too bad but when you add factors like stress and noise then that timeframe drops drastically.
So cramming is bad then right? Not entirely. It does have benefits when used with other study methods. By using your long and short term memory at the same time you give yourself more of a fighting chance in the test/exam to remember. By simply skimming over the work you had to study you bring information to your short term memory which allows you easier access to your long term memory.
So there you have a few different study methods. Everybody is different and you need to find the method that not only suits you but is easiest for you.
Do you have a method that works really well that you think others should know about?
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